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Frequently Asked Questions on Industrial Action for Staff

Why is UCU taking Industrial Action?

UCU is continuing its action over the 2013/14 national pay negotiations. UNISON and Unite have not expressed an intention, at this stage, to participate in this round of industrial action.

What form will the Industrial Action take?

This action will take the form of a rolling period of two-hour strikes, starting with those scheduled on the following dates:-

Thursday 23 January 11.00 to 13.00

Tuesday 28 January 14.00 to 16.00

Monday 10 February 09.00 to 11.00

Will the University operate as normally on these dates?

In the interests of students, the University will aim to operate as normally as possible on each of these dates.   Schools and departments have been asked to consider events occurring within their areas at these times and the strike contingency Group has been reconvened to discuss the likely impact of the strike and determine locally how best to ensure normal activity continues.

Employees are only legally permitted to participate in this industrial action if they are a member of  UCU.

Will my pay be deducted if I take Industrial action?

Yes.  It is the policy of Cardiff University to withold pay of staff who participate in any industrial action and will not accept the partial performance of the contract of any member of staff, including partial performance due to a part day strike.  The University’s policy is to withold 100% pay to staff who participate in partial performance/action short of strike.  In these circumstances, the University is legally entitled to withold full pay due on the day of action.  It has, however, without prejudice to its curent and future position, agreed to withold pay for two hours for those UCU members who participate in the two-hour strike today.  The University will monitor the situation and we may review the amount witheld in the future.

Will my pension be affected if I take Industrial action?

Further advice on implications for your pension can be obtained from UCU.

Can I opt to take annual leave on the days when industrial action is taking place?

Annual leave can be taken if it has been agreed in advance. Your School or department will consider further requests for annual leave in the context of likely staffing levels and the need to maintain normal operations. 

Can I work from home on the dates specified?

Yes if it has been agreed in advance. Please note that each School or Department will consider further requests in the context of likely staffing levels and the need to maintain normal operations. If you are scheduled to teach or attend meetings at a time when strike action is proposed, then it is likely that your request will be refused on this basis.  The University expects students to receive teaching currently planned, unless the person delivering it is on strike.

Can I request Emergency Leave on the dates specified?

Yes, if the requirement for the emergency leave is not related to industrial action.

Where the request for emergency leave is related to the industrial action which has been anticipated for a period of time emergency leave will not be granted. 

Do I have to inform my School/Directorate that I am taking part in Industrial Action?

You are asked to assist your School or Department in planning its activities by notifying your management of your intention to strike in advance of the day of action.  This is to assist with planning activities around who is working.  However at this stage it is voluntary:  there is no legal obligation for you to advise the University of your intention to strike before the strike action takes place.

On the date and time of the strike action, your School or Department will note who is not in work and whose absence has not been authorised in advance (holidays, hospital appointments, certified sick leave etc) or notified in advance (those who have notified of participation in strike action).

Following the strike action, Heads of Colleges/Prof Services will establish who was on strike.  At this point if you are asked whether you participated in the strike action you have a legal duty to inform us.  If you refuse to reply to this request, your absence will be treated as participation in the strike action and pay deducted accordingly.

What about pickets?

During a period of strike action, pickets are entitled to assemble at or near their place of work. We expect that UCU pickets will be at main entrances to University buildings and in particular at Main Building. However pickets are not entitled to be on University premises and must remain on the public highway without causing an obstruction.

The law allows pickets to seek to explain their case to those entering or leaving the picketed premises, and/or to ask them not to enter or leave the premises where the dispute is taking place. In no circumstances does a picket have power, under the law, to require other people to stop, or to compel them to listen or to do what s/he asks them to do. A person who decides to cross a picket line must be allowed to do so.

There is a national code of practice on picketing: http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file23914.pdf.  Any breaches of the code should be reported to your School or Department.

What if I am concerned about crossing a picket line?

Staff should not feel concerned or intimidated about crossing a picket line. Pickets may invite you to listen to their concerns, but cannot force you to do so. Pickets cannot intimidate or harass other University employees who are carrying out their contractual obligation to come into work. Any staff facing intimidation, harassment or insulting behaviour from members of a picket should report the incident to their manager.

What if I refuse to cross the picket line?

If you refuse to cross a picket line and you are not a member of UCU,  you will be in breach of your contract of employment with the University and this could lead to disciplinary action.

What about Health & Safety Issues on the dates specified?

It is the School or Department’s responsibility to ensure the Health & Safety of staff and students.  If groups of students are normally supervised e.g. PG Research students and this supervision is absent, appropriate alternative supervision will need to be provided  and it is appropriate to consider whether risk assessments for planned activities need to be reviewed in light of available staff resources.  Further guidance on Health & Safety matters is available from Andy Berry on 74137.

Guidance for Staff on Action Short of a Strike

UCU have asked their members to participate in action short of a strike in relation to a dispute over the national pay negotiations. The University has been informed that this action will take the form of "working to contract" and that it will be on a continuous basis from 1 November 2013.

The University is keen to ensure that the impact of industrial action on its students is minimised and as such is expecting staff to abide by their contracts of employment; which includes working to their job descriptions, working their contracted hours (35 per week for non-clinical staff/37.5 a week for clinical) and in the customary ways of their schools and departments.

Staff members who participate in "working to contract" should not engage in any activity that would cause them to be in breach of their contractual obligations. As staff will be performing all of their contractual duties, they will be paid in full.  Members of staff who decide to take action short of a strike should advise their HR Business Partner (details below).
It is important to note that the University’s policy is to withhold pay of staff who participate in action short of a strike which amounts to a breach of contract.  Partial performance of the contract is not accepted and the University reserves its right to withhold up to 100% of pay if that were to happen. (The rate of deduction is 1/261st per day.)  As UCU’s instruction is that its members should "work to contract", we do not expect that any member of staff will act in a way that breaches their contracts of employment.  

Contact Details for HR Business Partners:

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Rhian Roberts

RobertsR24@cf.ac.uk

X 79195

07814452623

Biomedical and Life Sciences

Kim Newcombe

NewcombeK@cf.ac.uk

X 88653

07875480618

Physical Sciences and Engineering

Juliet Jukes

JukesJ1@cf.ac.uk

X 79103

07875202798

Professional Services

Michelle Jones

JonesMF3@cf.ac.uk

X 70887

07875198317

What does "working to contract" mean?

UCU have issued guidance to members about their proposed call to "work to contract", which is available on their website (http://www.ucu.org.uk/workingtocontract). In principle however staff are reminded that their contractual relationship with the University comprises both express and implied terms. Express terms may stipulate particular hours of work or duties to be undertaken – these will be as outlined in your contract of employment signed when you joined the University alongside your Job description and any agreed changes since. Implied terms include the principles of performing duties in an efficient manner and to provide faithful and co-operative service to the University. Staff would also be expected to follow reasonable managerial instructions and requests in the delivery of their normal contractual duties.

I'm taking action short of a strike, who do I have to inform?

If you are asked by an appropriate person, you will need to answer truthfully whether you intend to "Work to Contract".  This is to ensure that the University is able to plan the delivery of its services

Will my pay be affected?

Any staff member who intends to "work to contract" should not be engaging in any activity that would cause them to be in breach of their contractual obligations and as such the University accepts that as they will be performing all of their contractual duties they will be paid in full. Staff are reminded however that the University does not accept partial performance and a failure to fulfil the entire range of contractual duties will lead to pay being deducted. In these circumstances staff are required to inform the University by contacting your Human Resources Manager/Business Partner.

Where a member of staff does not perform their contractual duties (partial performance) or engages in industrial action in the form of a strike, pay will be deducted at a rate of 1/261 of annual salary for each day pro-rated for part-time staff. Deductions will be made in the next available payroll following submission of the form.